Read any research report, engagement is becoming a top challenge with every organization. Employees don’t feel engaged. Customers don’t see their sales people engaging them in meaningful ways.

Engagement, or rather disengagement is becoming a crisis in our businesses and in our ability to reach customers.

Unfortunately, there seem to be many things that conspire to drive further disengagement. Our devices, apps, and tools; things that are supposed to be helping us be more productive cause us to be distracted, consequently disengaged.

Think to any meeting you’ve participated in the past 2 days. Probably you and others were listening with half an ear, at the same time looking at messages, emails, or just fiddling with the device.

We walk through our days, moving from meeting to meeting, never quite present, but at the same time feeling disengaged because our colleagues are not quite present. We seem to be going more through the motions than really accomplishing anything. We tend to deal with surface issues, symptoms, reacting to the latest crisis. However, we seldom take the opportunity to really dig in, to understand deeply, to engage our colleagues deeply.

We and our customers go through the same ritual. We look for engagement, but our own processes reduce our ability to have deep interactions with the customer.

We struggle to reach customers earlier in their cycle, we invest in marketing and content, it may create awareness and interest. It may provoke a call or a lead.

A SDR has a conversation. It’s solely focused on getting the next meeting with an AE. AE’s have discovery meetings, seeking only to discover enough to get to a demo. We do a demo, move to close. We engage, but just sufficiently to get an order. And then we pass the customer to the customer success team, which may never be speaking with the customer, leveraging tools and technology–because they make us more efficient.

Even in more complex sales, we seldom engage the customers(s) in deep discussions about what they are trying to achieve. Too often, we are too focused on pitching our products. Too often, we and the customers don’t take the time to really probe, discover, understand.

As sales managers, we have the same challenges. We don’t find the time to coach, instead we engage in quick conversations, we text, email.

Our tools don’t help us. They limit our interactions to emojiis, 140 characters, or short SnapChats. Too much of our communication is asynchronous and one way. Other tools, recognizing that we don’t have the time for deep interactions with our people, try to fill that gap with data, analysis, online learning.

In the end, our interactions with each other and with our customers end up being fairly brief, high level, bordering on superficial.

And we wonder why the data on employee engagement is so bad. Or why customers don’t want to see us/talk to us.

We replace deep interactions with a few with higher volumes of superficial interactions with many.

Ironically, those higher volumes don’t produce more. They don’t improve employee of customer satisfaction. They don’t improve our ability to engage. They don’t improve our ability to solve problems, to learn, to grow. They don’t produce results–either for our organizations or our customers.

What if we were to change how we worked? What if we started looking for a small number of deep interactions, creating more meaningful engagement? What if we started talking to our people and customers about the deeper issues impacting them, their businesses, and their performance? The number of interactions don’t need to be high, but the quality of the interaction and engagement might be more meaningful and impactful to everyone involved.

If we used some of our tools more effectively, perhaps they would enable us to free up time to have those deep interactions.

It seem too many of our people and our customers are looking for meaning and engagement. If we took the time to engage them more deeply, perhaps we and they would find it.